The Champions League round of 16 returns this week with a big match between Serie A champions Juventus and France’s Lyon. Rudi Garcia’s Lyon head into the second leg away from home with a 1-0 lead over Juventus. An away goal for Lyon could kill off the tie.
Juventus hit a massive slump in Serie A in the final weeks of the season. The Bianconeri won just twice in their last eight games. That included back to back losses to Cagliari and Roma. They were outscored 5-1 and struggled against both clubs.
While Juventus finished out their domestic campaign in July, Ligue 1 did not return after going on hiatus in March. Lyon have played friendlies over the last few weeks and also contested the Coupe de la Ligue final versus Paris Saint Germain last weekend. The final finished nil-nil with Lyon having plenty of chances to score, however, they lost on penalties after extra-time.
Lyon shocked Juventus in the first leg back in March with a 1-0 win at home thanks to a Lucas Tousart goal. Juventus were left shocked on the night as Cristiano Ronaldo and company struggled to make a meaningful impact. The Bianconeri limped over the Serie A title line and could struggle at home against the French club.
Lyon qualified for the round of 16 in the Champions League by finishing second in a difficult group that featured RB Leipzig, Benfica and Zenit St. Petersburg. A draw on the final day of the group stage with RB Leipzig, 2-2, enabled Lyon to move through at the expense of Benfica. Goal scoring was not Lyon’s strong point in the group with nine goals scored and eight conceded.
Juventus had no issues getting through their group which featured Atletico Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen and Lokomotiv Moscow. The Bianconeri did not taste defeat and progressed with 16 points from 18 possible.
Perhaps the story of the group stage for Juventus was Ronaldo’s lack of goal scoring. He tallied just two of Juventus’s 12 goals in the group. The 35-year-old may be feeling his age heading into the second leg. He scored with plenty of regularity during the season, 35 goals in 42 games in all competitions, but Juventus failed to be inspired by his goal scoring in the final Serie A games of the season. Ronaldo was signed to take Juventus to the Champions League Final and win it. Right now, Juventus do not look any closer to the trophy than in years previous.
Although Rudi Garcia managed against Juventus during his time at Roma, the manager’s experience against the Bianconeri should matter little on Friday. His time at Roma came before Maurizio Sarri was hired at the club and prior to Ronaldo’s arrival. Still, Garcia is a good manager and nearly masterminded a cup final win versus Paris Saint-Germain last weekend. Had Lyon had better quality in attack on the night, they could have won.
Garcia will most likely hand forward Memphis Depay a start. After suffering a season-ending knee injury in the first half of the term, Depay is now available to play for Lyon having recovered. It has been claimed that Depay is in better shape right now than before the injury occurred.
Depay could be on his way out of Lyon and headed to Borussia Dortmund. The ex-Manchester United player’s transfer could set off a domino effect of moves that see Jadon Sancho end up at Old Trafford.
Sarri is sweating the fitness of forward Paulo Dybala. The Argentine has been brilliant in Turin this season but a thigh muscle injury could keep him out of the team. Meanwhile, Sarri is without Douglas Costa, Mattia De Sciglio and Sami Khedira.
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Friday’s game is set up for Ronaldo to score and take Juventus through to the next round? Don’t be so sure about the Bianconeri advancing to the quarterfinals but Ronaldo should be ready to score a goal or two to give them hope. Ronaldo always seems to pop up in times of need. The real question is, however: can his teammates also rise to the occasion?
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It was a game of slim margins when the clubs played in March but things could be different in the second leg. Juventus must score to level to aggregate score. Lyon must score to kill the tie off. If Lyon can get a goal, Juventus would suddenly need three goals rather than just one to force extra-time and two to win. They could be at the mercy of an away goal.
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An away goal completely changes the complexion of the fixture on Friday. If Lyon can get a goal, then Juventus need three scores. Multiple Lyon goals could see them kill off the tie early and once again end Juventus’s chances of a first Champions League win since 1996. Juventus have won the competition just twice in their history although they have reached the final on more occasions.
Lyon can shock the European football world by progressing. They surprised Juventus in the first leg and with the home team in poor form to finish the domestic campaign, Lyon could go through. Lyon’s problem may not be Juventus and their quality. The real issue could be a lack of football over the last few months. Lyon’s Coupe de la Ligue was a good warm-up for Juventus and they held Neymar in check throughout the game. However, Ronaldo is another issue and it should be much harder to keep the Portuguese star in check.
Don’t be surprised to see Juventus win but Lyon progress to the quarterfinals. There, Bayer Munich are likely to be waiting as they go into their second leg match with Chelsea up 3-0.
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The Allianz Stadium is host the match between Juventus and Lyon this Friday.
No, the match between Juventus and Lyon is not available to live stream with a bookmaker.
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The kick-off time for Juventus vs Lyon is 20:00 UK time on Friday 7th August.